How to Make Hugelkultur Raised Beds

| 4/15/2015 3:48:00 PM

Tags: Hugelkultur, Raised Beds, Gardening, Garden, Gardening Method, James White,

James WhiteThe technique of making Hugelkultur raised beds has been in practice for probably thousands of years, though lately it’s becoming increasingly popular. Hugelkultur beds are created by putting compost or soil on top of rotting wood and using the small hill to plant.

Many fellow gardeners seemed to have an endless list of good things to say about these raised beds. So after hearing about the harvests other gardens were putting out, I decided it was time to test this method and see if it lived up to the hype.

hugelkulter bed | courtesy

Image by Rich Soil

Benefits of Hugelkultur Gardens

  • You can grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization.

  • No need to till once your garden is built.

  • This type of gardening works in a variety of environments, even the desert.

  • Improves the fertility of your soil.

  • Uses rotting wood that would otherwise be discarded, making it perfect for trees knocked down in storms.

  • Makes food more flavorful, especially fruit. Tomatoes and berries will be even more delicious.

  • Improves drainage.

Now that you know the benefits of this gardening system, let’s move into the labor part – actually building your raised beds. While it might seem like a hassle to put these gardens together, once they’re built they’re so low maintenance, it pays off in the long run.

6/17/2016 9:16:31 AM

Hi James. We live in a flood zone in NC. There is a creek that runs thru the property that overflows whenever we get 3 or more inches of rain. If we clear out the trees and brush that's growing along the creek and create a barrier of Hugelkultur Raised Beds along the creek, do you think it will also help prevent the flooding issues we have? Thanks in advance for any advice.

6/17/2016 7:37:20 AM

I make a similar raised bed with wood chips that I get by free the truck load from a load tree service, makes a lot of beds and can be used as a mulch as well. Works extremely well, but the chips will break down faster than whole logs. It is much easier than moving whole sections of wood though.

4/28/2015 1:28:45 PM

The only tree logs I have are paradise trees...I'm afraid if I use these to build a raised bed, they'll start to grow!

4/27/2015 8:06:26 AM

James, welcome to the GRIT blogging community. Already, you have me interested in your posts. I read about Hugelkultur a couple years ago when clearing out a vacant lot with trees that had to be cut down. I didn't really give it a try yet but it's on the list to do some day in the future. The articles that I read were a little more labor intensive. They suggested digging a trench first then filling it with wood branches, paper, and cardboard. Then covering up the pile with the soil from the trench. They suggested to leave it lay dominant for one year for the nitrogen reason that you indicated, then plant away for the next 25 years. I like your method better. No digging trench. ***** Have a great Hugelkultur day.

4/16/2015 5:29:19 PM

What are the sticks on the ground for? Do you add more wood from time to time? Is it okay to put non-rotting wood on the bottom, with the rotting wood over it?

4/16/2015 11:47:12 AM

I would think something against the house may create an issue with drainage up under the house or even into a basement area without proper drainage under the mass. I could be wrong. I went of a farm tour here and the man was doing the same thing calling it permaculture. This is definitely a great way to do things, yet is also very long term and takes a lot of thinking about where to do this since once in place it will never be moved.

4/16/2015 8:41:53 AM

Has anyone built a hugel-berm up against a house's crawlspace wall?? in a cold, wet climate like Ohio?? it would seem to have, not only temperature moderating effect but also wind damage abatement potential, with a gravel path at the edge of the foot to keep stormwater controlled... what do you think would be needed to shape such an intriguing berm idea? I have to cut trees to mitigate falling-tree hazards in this lovely woodlands space around near the house... so the cost of this project would pay back over time, easily, right? ttys because we're eager to hear more about this reality of hugel-berming with its humanly favorable garden at the path edge!

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